(December, 1998)

P On Campus Isn't Thrilling
from Teresa H.

Dear Ed: I was quite lucky to stumble across your web page while pretending to work at my college newspaper this evening.

I am placing an order for your book and eagerly anticipate its arrival. Perhaps humor can treat the disease in a way medications certainly cannot.

May I bore you with my short but somewhat tedious history of skin-shedding?

My first spots appeared at the age of 21, following a nasty strep infection last Christmas. Since then I have been through topical steroids, steroid injections, Dovonex, Tazorac, PUVA and the like. No sign of remission.

Spots like mine aren't easy to hide while gallivanting across a college campus. Long pants and sleeves become torturous amidst the deathly heat of summer. Not to mention—my legs were my best feature, dammit!

My newest test of vanity: After months of thanking the powers that be that at least the spots weren't on my face, I discovered a flaking monster firmly planted upon my right eyelid.

My newest test of sanity: My friend's new boyfriend was kind enough to extol on my behalf, "She's such a beautiful girl. Too bad she's all scarred up like that."

Ahem.

Winter is now approaching, and some serious molting is now taking place. I've felt quite isolated, seeing as how I know no one else with this particular affliction. (Ten percent of the population—where the heck is everybody?!) This is why, kind sir, I feel lucky to have found your site. Now, rather than continuing to be a glutton of self-pity, I can laugh at these nasty little spots. Right after scratching the hell out of them. Thanks. -Teresa H.

*****

Ed's' Response: Hello, Teresa. I'm an alumnus of your current occupation, having served my time (5 years, to be exact) on my college newspaper. (I started out a reporter, moved up to editor-in-chief, rounded out my career as a typesetter. Interestingly enough, I made the most money as a typesetter!) Well, we need to stay in touch. FLAKE HQ will need a new helmsman someday ... I'm not sure anyone who hasn't been through the exercise of making Student Senate meetings sound important could pull this off. (But that's between you and me, okay?)

I think you may have overestimated our strength in numbers. Current U.S. Census bureau estimates suggest there are about 271 million Americans. National Psoriasis Foundation believes there are 6.5 million psoriatics in America. That's about 2.4%; so you're likely to find 2 and one-half psoriatics in every 100 people. You'd have to look hard to spot us, plus, whenever we can, we hide!

As far as those great looking stems of yours are concerned, I suggest you keep'm guessing on campus by resurrecting Spandex as a fashion statement. For the eyelid? If my own case is any example, lesions on the face are the easiest to control—probably because the skin is thin and more vulnerable to our meds. In the meantime, dark glasses. They're still "in," aren't they?

Now that you've found us, keep us posted about the campus scene. When I was in college I didn't know what psoriasis was or how to spell it. I certainly don't recall ever running into anybody who looked like I look, now.

For a few months, after I published FLAKE, I carried a few copies around in my car, vowing that I'd strike up a conversation with the first psoriatic I ran into and give him or her a book. As I recall, I only found one stranger to give a copy to, and that person only knew someone who had psoriasis. That's why this place has become so dear to me. I can't find us, either. -Ed

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